“I’ve done my duty, anyhow.” Miss Valdes turned to the older man, and somehow the way she did it seemed to wipe Gordon out of the picture. “There is something I want to talk over with you, Mr. Davis. Can you wait a few moments?”
“Sure I can—all day if you like.”
Dick retired with his best bow. “Steve, you always was popular with the ladies.”
Valencia, uncompromising, waited until he had gone. Then, swiftly, with a little leap of impulse as it were, she appealed to Davis.
“Don’t let him go back to the valley. Don’t let him push the cases against Sebastian and Pablo.”
The old miner shook his head “Sorry, Miss Valencia. Wish I could stop him, but I can’t. He’ll go his own way—always would.”
“But don’t you see they’ll kill him. It’s madness to go back there while he’s pushing the criminal case. Before it was bad enough, but now——” She threw up her hands with a gesture of despair.
“I reckon you’re right. But I can’t help it.”
“Then look out for him. Don’t let him ride around in the hills. Don’t let him leave the house at night. Never let him go alone. Remember that he is in danger every hour while he remains in the valley.”
“I’ll remember, Miss Valencia,” Davis promised.
He wondered as he walked away why the talk between Dick and Miss Valdes had gone so badly. He knew his friend had come jubilantly, prepared to do anything she asked of him. The fear and anxiety that had leaped to her face the instant Gordon had gone showed him that the girl had a deep interest in the young man. She, too, had meant to meet him half way in wiping out the gulf between them. Instead, they had only increased it.
WHEN THE WIRES WERE CUT
Don Manuel rode into the moonlit plaza of the Valdes ranch, dismounted, and flung the reins to the boy that came running. Pesquiera nodded a careless greeting and passed into the house. He did not ask of anyone where Valencia was, nor did he send in a card of announcement. A lover’s instinct told him that he would find her in the room that served both as an office and a library for her, seated perhaps before the leaping fireglow she loved or playing softly on the piano in the darkness.
The door was open, and he stood a moment on the threshold to get accustomed to the dim light.
A rich, low-pitched voice came across the room to him.
“It is you, Manuel?”
He stepped swiftly forward to the lounge upon which she was lying and knelt on one knee beside her, lifting her hand to his lips. “It is I, corazon mia, even Manuel the lucky.”